Attn: CEOs, in-house lawyers and HR departments

Federal Law No. 60-FZ dated 5 April 2013 amends the Russian Labour Code in terms of regulating the work of remote employees. The amended code describes how to enter into employment agreements with remote employees and how they should liaise with the employer. The Law comes into force on 19 April 2013.

We note the most important provisions of the law:

  1. The concept of remote work is introduced. It is defined as work that meets all of the following criteria:
    1. the job function is performed by the employee outside the employer’s location (including its branch offices and representative offices) and away from a stationary workplace, area or facility that is directly or indirectly controlled by the employer;
    2. to perform his/her job function and liaise with the employer the employee uses public information and telecommunications networks, including the Internet;
    3. there is an employment agreement signed between the employer and employee that contemplates remote work.
  2. The amended code allows an encrypted digital signature to be used for signing an employment agreement, familiarising the employee with the company’s internal regulations, serving notices on the employee, as well as in other similar cases. This helps considerably to simplify document management (it is no longer necessary to have the employee sign by hand on each occasion). At the same time, the law provides for a number of cases when the employer must provide the employee with documents in hardcopy.
  3. No employment record book needs to be issued when the remote employee (first) enters into an employment agreement. Neither is it required that entries be made in the existing employment record book.
  4. The Law provides that the employer may terminate employment on the grounds contemplated by the employment agreement. Consequently, we recommend stipulating such grounds in the text of the agreement and ensuring that the agreement may be terminated on the grounds set out in the Labour Code.
  5. The employer’s obligations in terms of labour protection have shrunk significantly. With regard to remote employees there remain the obligations to investigate and account for industrial accidents, and to take out insurance against work injuries and professional diseases among others. The employment agreement may provide for additional obligations.

What do these new features mean for employers?

The main difference between remote employees and homeworkers is that the latter perform their job functions at home while the former may do it anywhere.

Compared to working at home, remote employment has a number of advantages for employers. For instance, it is more convenient to interact with the employee using a digital signature. Besides, companies have much fewer obligations in terms of labour protection, hence fewer risks.